Are you an independent thinker or do you go along with the crowd? Science is showing us that we frequently form our opinions based upon what others around us are doing – and probably more than we think!

Researchers a few years ago ran a study where individuals could download songs from a list. In some cases they were given the popularity of songs as downloaded by others, in some cases not. Although this information neither kept a good song from being downloaded more often or help a really poor song to spring into popularity, for those songs somewhere in between in quality, knowing something was popular with others increased the chances of it being downloaded. Here’s a link to the study.  There are many other similar studies which have similar findings.

This is probably not a great surprise – I know when I open an album in the iTunes store and I want to listen to some samples, I generally play the ones that are shown to be the most popular. When I am considering purchasing a book from Amazon, the ratings of others are always a consideration. Yelp and similar apps that describe restaurants nearby generally sway me towards the ones with the most favorable reviews.

We are all getting inundated with choices. Other scientific studies have shown that too many choices can cause us mental paralysis. As the world becomes more complex, not only do we get presented with more choices everywhere we look, even a simple choice between two things, be it choosing a new smart phone or who to vote for, can seem daunting when we have to consider so many factors. We start to not trust ourselves, thinking others may know better. We go with their opinions when we are on the fence.

This is pretty natural, we are social animals and like to fit in. I like my friends, if they like something, then odds are I’m going to like it too! The strange thing though is this – my friends are watching me and making decisions based upon what I choose! But if my choice was based on somebody else’s choice, then who’s really choosing? Social scientists say there are some true trendsetters who go their own way, making their own independent choices, and all it takes is a few of us to make the initial choice to follow them and then everybody gets in line!

So if this is true, what can we do with this information?

First, we can be aware when we are making a choice that is being determined by others. It’s okay to do that, just be conscious of it.

Second, we can be an influencer ourselves. Be an independent thinker and chooser!

Third, when we are making these independent choices, let’s make sure that we are making choices that are leading humanity towards its highest potential.  Are we encouraging peace, harmony and oneness in our choices? Hopefully so. You never know who’s following you!

By the way, why don’t you choose to” like” this article and pass it on to your friends. You have got a lot of influence, you know!

Mark

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!